You don’t have to read too deeply into the proposals for revising the inspection regime for adult social care, or into the Care Bill going through Parliament to understand that the pace of change for domiciliary care businesses is likely to increase rather than ease off.
We talked about the potential impact of the new inspection regime and ratings systems for adult social care providers in this recent article. Whatever the final detail looks like, the intention is clear: home care providers will have to be able to demonstrate that they are well managed and have robust home care management systems in place for care planning, quality control and service user involvement and feedback.
When the Care Bill eventually becomes enacted there are likely to be further requirements, particularly in the areas of safeguarding and assessing the needs of service users.
So what might this mean for the systems you use to manage care delivery? Here are a few basic requirements that I believe need to be met.
The first and most critical feature I believe will be flexibility. There are a lot of potential changes to the requirements for service provision that we can already predict with reasonable certainty, but there are plenty of others that we can’t.
Inspection standards and the content and focus of CQC inspections will evolve in the light of experience and events – that has always been the case. The difference is that this ‘routine level of uncertainty’ will be occurring on top of an environment of rapid change.
A critical question for management teams in all care providers is how confident they are that their systems will be able to keep pace. You should be looking at the responsiveness that your system provider has shown in the past and considering whether this is what you’ll need in the future.
Care provision will become even more focused on the needs of service users. Assessments will also include active consideration of measures to reduce the need for care services both now and in the future.
Additionally, service users and their families/carers will have to be more involved in the decisions made about the care delivered. CQC inspectors will expect to see evidence that this is happening.
This is a critical area where providers should be looking to their domiciliary care management systems for help. A modern, secure, web-based system should provide a more straightforward way to collect evidence that the required consultation and involvement is happening and that it is having a positive impact on service users’ lives.
One issue that is certain to remain prominent is that of data security. All providers should be thinking carefully about how they keep service user data secure. If this is something that concerns you I would recommend reading this recent article.
One prediction I can make with absolute certainty is that the funding available will not increase in proportion to the number of people needing home care services, or in proportion to the overall complexity of the care required.
Getting more from less will increasingly become the norm. Efficient deployment of care staff, particularly those with specialist skills and training will be even more important than it is now. Additionally, back-office systems will need to be easy to manage and make the minimum possible demands on managers’ and supervisors’ time.
In particular, record keeping for workforce development, CPD and training will need to be hyper-efficient as will the ability to apply this information automatically when creating staff rosters.
Home care management systems that are inefficient, or are hard to use in the way that you need to use them, should become a thing of the past. But if your existing system (manual or electronic) is already struggling to cope, imagine what the future might look like.
Increasing demands and increasing financial pressures will inevitably mean that providers will be looking for the best possible value. There’s a huge range in the cost and the contractual terms for the various systems on the market and it’s vital to take a good look at what you get for your money.
So if you don’t yet have a domiciliary care management system, or if your subscription is coming up for renewal this year, it’s a good time to start shopping around to see who can offer the flexibility, support and value you will need in the future.
Dan Farrell-Wright, CareForIt
Take a look at how cost-effective home care management software can be: CareForIT Plans